INVESTIGATING THE BIBLE:

Scientifically Inductively Objectively

Anonymous

(Investigator 52, 1997 January)


For the purpose of investigating the Bible, I do not assume the Bible to be either true or false.

Christians, Scientific Creationists and sectarian religions assume the Bible true. This often leads to circular reasoning.

A common sort of example of circular reasoning is:

"A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic...or he would be the Devil of hell." (C S Lewis Mere Christianity)
 
A person making this point then often argues that Jesus' own example in behaviour and his calls to moral conduct prove he wasn't "the Devil of hell". And if he also wasn't merely a "great moral teacher" it supposedly follows that Jesus is God. And since Jesus quoted and affirmed the Old Testament it follows that the Bible is without error as well.

The circularity in this reasoning is that it's already being assumed that what the New Testament says about Jesus including his conduct and his statements about himself is all correctly reported.

In other words the Bible is, from the start, assumed to be true.

The process is therefore a useless tautology.

Nor do I assume the Bible to be false, as do most skeptics, atheists, non-Christian religions and agnostics.

For the purpose of my investigations the Bible is taken as a set of statements, each of which might, prior to being tested, be either true or false.

After allowing for context, figures of speech, poetry, literary structure and (rarely) differences in manuscripts, statements are evaluated as to what they are whether true or false.

Fantastic Facts (1986 World International Publishing Ltd Great Britain) says:

You may have seen films of a snake charmer playing music to a snake in a basket and making it dance. In fact, the snake can’t hear the music, or anything else for that matter. Snakes are deaf! When a snake charmer charms a snake, what he does is to tap his foot on the ground and sway about. The snake moves in time to the vibrations and watches the charmer so closely that it sways as he does. (p. 9)   Numerous references including the [Britannica] Micropedia under the heading Cobra state that snakes are deaf. The Bible implied snakes have ears and hear.

The Encyclopedia Britannica under Sensory Systems shows that snakes do hear.  [See article about cobras from #94 on this website – Ed.]

This is one success for "Biblical Inerrancy".

This approach is objective.

This approach also cuts across skeptical hype, theories in theology and sectarian dogma.

This approach also avoids the logical error of assuming correct what we're investigating.

I'm particularly keen to investigate Bible statements which are or were contradicted by other books, authorities or people.

After testing a large number of statements I generalize the result, that is, I reason inductively. Anyone who trusts a friend who is regularly reliable is using inductive reasoning and anyone who won't trust a known liar is also using inductive reasoning.

In all areas of life we generalize from what is known (including from experience) to the unknown.

Similarly, I generalize the % true, or the % false, of tested Bible statements to statements not yet tested including those which are currently untestable.

Sometimes I test statements from a number of different areas or topics such as biology, medicine, history, geography, psychology, etc. (See Investigator No. 31 & No. 46)

At other times I limit myself to one topic.

For example in Investigator No. 50 we considered places and people named in the Old Testament.

In rounded-out figures about 300 of 900 places named have historical/archaeological support and about 50 of 2,900 people named have independent support. None of the 900 or the 2,900 are definitely refuted.

Therefore I generalized and predicted that all of the 900 and all of the 2,900 are correct and more and more will be scientifically confirmed.

Dr John Roffey, lecturer intheology at Flinders University, said regarding the place-names and predicting that all 900 places existed: "I cannot disagree with that because it cannot be disproved. But I don’t think archaeology will find sites corresponding to all Biblical names."

Regarding the claim that 2,900 people named in the Old Testament really existed Dr Roffey said: "It's the same as with the other names. Most people in the pre-Exile period were not highly literate. They would live their lives and go and not leave written records.

<>"Without written records we rely on archaeological records such as pottery, stone tablets, door posts and coins – unless more scrolls turn up. With the Dead Sea Scrolls we were lucky they hadn't rotted away."

Yes, unless more scrolls turn up! There remains the possibility that not all records were destroyed when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD – or that some records were kept in duplicate elsewhere.

At any rate we have an inductive generalization which future research will strengthen, weaken or leave as is.

If samples of Bible statements in many areas or topics are tested and all turn out either correct, or at least unrefuted, then the theory of the Inerrancy of the Bible is a scientifically established theory.

The philosophical question of defining when inductive generalizations are valid is unsolved. If it were solved we'd always be able to predict the future accurately!

In Philosophical Problems and Arguments An Introduction, we read:

"An inductive argument from evidence to hypothesis is inductively cogent if and only if the hypothesis is that hypothesis which, of all the competing hypotheses, has the greatest probability of being true on the basis of the evidence." (J W Cornman, K Lehrer, G S Pappas 1982 Third edition Macmillan p. 35)
  However, there is no formal orautomatic way of deciding which hypothesis, or which inductive generalization, of the competing ones has "the greatest probability of being true".

If we discover many accurate statements in the Bible possible hypotheses might include:

There is no automatic way of deciding which hypothesis is right.

My method is to generalize that which we investigated – the percentage of Bible statements which are accurate or unrefuted.

If this percentage is l00% it implies the hypothesis or theory that the original Scriptures of the Bible are without error.

This theory is then tested, by testing further testable statements.

Testing of further statements would be tests of the theory of Biblical Inerrancy to see whether it stays unfalsified. And if each Bible statement tested continues to turn out correct, or unrefuted, we retain the theory.

(In that case wise skeptics will consider the further inductive step of contacting via prayer the God revealed in the unrefuted Bible!)

In doing all this testing we must recognize that the Bible includes poetry, symbolic language and over 100 categories of figures of speech. Someone who takes literally what is a figure of speech will seem to have refuted something in the Bible but further examination will reveal that he has simply misunderstood.

Note also that often the language in the Bible is the language of perception – i.e. what an observer at ground level perceived, or perceives or would have perceived. A simple example is the phrase, "When the sun rose..."

The above explanation explains the rationale for my investigations into the Bible for Investigator.


The Bible investigated:

http://users.adam.com.au/bstett/

http://ed5015.tripod.com/